From Seattle to Armenia, Vendor of the Week Martin Babajian has been reaching out since he was 18.
"In Mexico I worked with orphanages and in Armenia I worked with earthquake survivors and people who were involved in the war that was going on at that time. I didn't have any personal accomplishments in mind except to go day by day and see what the needs of the people were there. General necessities: food, shelter...."
Some of his outreach is spiritually motivated, but he finds inspiration in other places as well. "To be in Armenia was important to me because that's my heritage and I felt an affinity to the people of that country and to some of the turmoil and problems they've gone through throughout history."
When he returned from the Vietnam War, Babajian reached out in a way that he considers hurtful.
"The radical attitude that I had when I came back as a Vietnam-era veteran was very negative. I got into drugs and radical violence on the streets and I ended up getting in trouble. But I got through that turmoil and chaos for a reason."
From the chaos emerged a belief in peace, an idea influenced by growing up in a Quaker town. "Quakers believe in anti-war activity and not supporting militaries or anything that involves killing other people."
Babajian feels an affinity for Seattle. "I've been homeless and I'm financially poor now, so I know that feeling of being in the cold and being in the hot and being in trouble when you're not. At the same time, the weather here in Seattle is one of the best in the world."
He hopes the city will be the first to eradicate homelessness. "It's very possible. Seattle could be an example for the rest of the world."
Visit Martin at Fourth Avenue and Madison Street in downtown Seattle.